Schools That Learn LO22844

Art Kleiner (
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 01:01:33 -0400

Replying to LO22706 --

Hi, Tom...

Thanks very much for this note and sorry it's taken so long to reply.

I quite agree about the educational movements of the 1960s and 1970s;
indeed, we just finished editing a piece by Jim Evers, one ofthe founders
of the Rockland Project School from that era. He makes the point that
schools faced the same dilemmas then that they do now.

I remember the Free Schools from my own time as a high school/college
student, and a fairly impassioned one about education, in the late 1960s
and early 1970s. I was involved in Communiversity, for instance, in the
Bay Area around 1976. But that story, fascinating and valuable as it is,
doesn't quite fit the frame of the current book... Hopefully it helps as
background for the tone and style of the book... (the Fieldbooks, as you
may know, were deeply influenced by the Whole Earth Catalogs.)

Your comment echoes many of the comments we hear about business: i.e.,
until there is "critical mass," nothing will happen worth mentioning. My
own view is: Until something happens worth mentioning, there will be no
critical mass. I would not personally want to work on these books if I
felt they were proseltizing for the "one and only way" to change
businesses, schools, or anything else. I like working on them precisely
because they lay out a set of options for people and invite them to find
their own way. That means, inevitably, some will move quickly, some
slowly, and some not at all.

As for charter schools, my coauthors are intrigued by them, but anxious
about their effect on the larger school systems. We have a piece on a
charter school in Chelmsford MA.

If you're interested in corresponding more, with a possibility of using
some of the material in the book, I'd be interested in the following

What kinds of things happen when you use the bio/physical and
socio/economic environments as a learning laboratory? What kinds of things
happen that don't happen in an ordinary high school? And what precepts
would you suggest for someone else trying to do the same thing?

Finally, please forgive my terrible memory. I have the feeling that we
have met in the past, because I seem to recognize your name -- but I can't
place it.

Yours, ArtK

At 9:39 PM -0400 9/22/99, tabeles wrote:
>Hi art
>I think you loose a lot when you try to map the concept of school change
>and school as a learning organization into the concepts as structured or
>labeled in the vision of a LO as originally created by Senge and you may
>be doing a disservice to both students and teachers who are struggling on
>a daily basis to build a meaningful educational experience.
>In the 60's and 70's a number of us were involved in attempting to build
>relevant educational experiences which you might label learning
>organizations. The Free University movement and many of the alternative
>institutions which arose during that period speak to this issue. And i
>believe that this effort needs to be explored beyond the idea that it was
>a simple movement to offer spaced out curricula.
>I have taken a year from my consulting practice to work as a faculty
>member in an honors high school in a rural area which not only addresses
>needed advanced content in the sciences, but is committed (students and
>faculty) to using the bio/physical and socio/economic environment as both
>a learning laboratory and to transform both the community and the
>educational environment
>I also believe that if you look at the charter school movement and related
>alternative learning environments you will find many faculty, parents,
>community members, etc who are committed to building opportunities
>The rise in "noncredit education" and the commitment of faculty to this
>area also speak to these issues.
>I do not think, though that you will find a pattern approach where faculty
>have a bookshelf with the 5th discipline, fieldbook and dance and have a
>prescriptive process or a chart of stages.
>People who do systems modeling describe a university as a "garbage can"
>model because of its seemingly incoherent and chaotic organizational
>nature. And while I have been a strong critic, as a former tenured
>professor, I appreciate this seeming inertia
>What will prove interesting will be whether the private, for-profits,
>emerging in the education business will be any more responsive to the idea
>of a learning organization than their traditional counter parts. Right
>now, this sector with its adjunct, underpaid, faculty is closer to the old
>manufacturing corporations before unionization and representation. Driven
>by profits, there is a reluctance for this new entrant in the marketplace
>of knowledge to even
>think about this. And adjunct faculty who moonlight seem strangely
>uninterested in raising this issue with the same reluctance as workers in
>the coal mines, knowing that if they fall, someone will pick up the shovel.
>Now, if you could take Capella (TGSA), Jones International, University of
>Phoenix, Walden etc and get them to deal with this as an institution, we
>would have a real interesting situation
>tom abeles

-- Art Kleiner,,


Art Kleiner <>

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